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The effect of soil quality on fertilizer use rates among smallholder farmers in western Kenya

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  • Marenya, Paswel Phiri
  • Barrett, Christopher B.

Abstract

Studies of fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa have been dominated by analyses of economic and market factors having to do with infrastructure, institutions, and incentives that prevent or foster increased fertilizer demand, largely ignoring how soil fertility status conditions farmer demand for fertilizer. We apply a switching regression model to data from 260 farm households in western Kenya in order to allow for the possibility of discontinuities in fertilizer demand based on a soil carbon content (SCC) threshold. We find that the usual factors reflecting liquidity and quasi-fixed inputs are important on high-SCC plots but not on those with poorer soils. External inputs become less effective on soils with low SCC, hence the discernible shift in behaviors across soil quality regimes. For many farmers, improved fertilizer market conditions alone may be insufficient to stimulate increased fertilizer use without complementary improvements in the biophysical conditions that affect conditional factor demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Marenya, Paswel Phiri & Barrett, Christopher B., 2009. "The effect of soil quality on fertilizer use rates among smallholder farmers in western Kenya," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51671, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae09:51671
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/51671
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bruce E. Hansen, 2000. "Sample Splitting and Threshold Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(3), pages 575-604, May.
    2. Christine M. Moser & Christopher B. Barrett, 2006. "The complex dynamics of smallholder technology adoption: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(3), pages 373-388, November.
    3. Barrett, Christopher B., 2008. "Smallholder market participation: Concepts and evidence from eastern and southern Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 299-317, August.
    4. Hotchkiss, Julie L, 1991. "The Definition of Part-Time Employment: A Switching Regression Model with Unknown Sample Selection," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(4), pages 899-917, November.
    5. Marc F. Bellemare & Christopher B. Barrett, 2006. "An Ordered Tobit Model of Market Participation: Evidence from Kenya and Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 324-337.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertilizer demand; Fertilizer policy; Soil carbon; Soil organic matter; Switching regression; Agricultural and Food Policy; Crop Production/Industries; Q12; Q18; Q24;

    JEL classification:

    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land

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